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07.01.11 Expansion of Online Learning Opportunities part of New State Budget

Ohio's new state budget  will expand the use of digital learning for primary and secondary school students, according to Ohio Education Matters.
Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 153, the two-year, $55.8 billion state measure, which includes provisions that will expand digital learning opportunities in traditional and charter public schools.
The provisions include:
-- Ensuring Ohio students have access to online courses at any point in their educational careers.
-- Providing students the ability to fulfill state curriculum requirements through online courses to supplement courses taken in a traditional classroom setting, at any time during the calendar year, without a limit on the number of credits received online.
-- Allowing students will be able to customize their education through individual online courses – allowing them to access course-level options in addition to the already established full-time e-schools.
H.B. 153 also establishes the Ohio Digital Learning Task Force, which is charged with developing a strategy for the expansion of digital learning that enables students to customize their education, produces cost savings, and meets the needs of Ohio's economy.
“This legislation is consistent with a view of education that centers on the needs of learners, not those of institutions. As digital learning evolves, teaching and learning will become increasingly tailored to Ohio’s students’ needs and abilities,” said Lisa Duty,  director of External Affairs for KnowledgeWorks, a subsidiary of  Ohio Education Matters. “These changes are important as technology can create unprecedented access to a high-quality education, but historically policies have arbitrarily limited or controlled access to digital learning.”



05.13.11 Study Says Some Ohio eSchools are Poor Performers

Five of Ohio's  seven largest e-schools posting graduation rates lower than that of the state's worst traditional public school district, and six of seven rated less than "effective," according to a study by Innovation Ohio.
Innovation Ohio looked at the state's seven largest e-schools, which account for 90 percent of e-school enrollment, and found that five have graduation rates below 54.3 percent, the rate for Cleveland City Schools, the state's worst. The lowest was Treca Digital Academy, at 24.1 percent.
One school, Ohio Connections Academy, is rated "excellent" and has the highest graduation rate in the group at 89.3 percent. Innovation Ohio officials gave the school credit for having more teacher-student interaction, but they noted that the rate still ranks it below most traditional public schools.
"An e-school that provides a worse education is no alternative at all," said Innovation Ohio spokesman Dale Butland.
Tom Needles, a lobbyist for David Brennan, the state's largest charter-school operator, including the Distance and Electronic Learning Academy, said, "This is an intentionally misleading, nearly incomprehensible political attack from a partisan organization that is hostile to school choice."
Nick Wilson, spokesman for Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, the state's largest e-school, said ECOT's 35 percent graduation rate does not account for the five-year, six-year and seven-year graduates, "which ECOT considers among its greatest success stories."
Many ECOT students were at risk of dropping out of school before enrolling, Wilson said, and the school is poised to get an "effective" ranking this year.
The report also noted that in 2003 the state Department of Education developed 27 pages of standards for e-schools that lawmakers never implemented.



05.02.11 Learning from Date on Ohio Eschools

Ohio has operated “e-schools,” charter schools that operate entirely online and which students “attend” on a full-time basis, for a decade. As policy debates around online learning grow throughout the nation, it is a good time to look at Ohio's eschools and find out what policymakers can learn from them.
In a three-series, Education Sector looks at Ohio's eschools. In 2001, the first "Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow" opened. Soon, the state fielded 27 eschools. And, according to the Education Sector report, despite a 2005 moratorium on the opening of any new eschools, enrollment has soared to more than 29,000 students.
Part 1 of the series provides an overview of enrollment, operators, and the debate over Ohio's eschools.


Here are the other parts of the Education Sector report:
Part 2: Ohio's 'Statewide' eschools
Part 3: Ohio's 'Regional Schools
Part 4: Ohio's 'Local' Schools
Part 5: Does Size Determine eschool Performance
Part 6: Who Are Ohio eschool Students?
Part 7: Student Mobility in Ohio eschools

Part 8: Five National Policy Implications from Ohio's eschools


01.26.11 National Summit Held in Columbus Focuses on Digital Learning in State, Nation

It was a straight-forward concept: Bring national recognized digital learning advocates to Ohio to show  state leaders how virtual education can help improve the state's student performance and lower education costs.
The summit, sponsored by Knowledgeworks, Ohio Smart Schools, Digital Learning Now and Ohio Education Matters, was held just as Ohio Smart Schools, a collaborative, nonpartisan initiative of Ohio Education Matters dedicated to finding new ways for Ohio’s schools to work more effectively and efficiently.It  is completing a review of public educations spending in the state. The goal of the research is to "accelerate student achievement at a time when the public education system has fewer dollars to spend because of the lingering economic crisis." The review, according to Ohio Smart Schools, will include recommendations on how to expand digital learning in
Ohio.
The report is expected to be released in February 2011.
Ohio has had a up-and-down history when it comes to virtual education. The state has a state-led virtual education program, schools in and in the 2009-2010 school year served more than 31,000 students. The programs included eCommunity schools, which are similar to charter schools. 
Six eCommunity schools closed in 2008 by mutual agreement with their sponsors.
In 2010, Ohio launched the OhioLearns! Gateway. John Watson of the Evergreen Education Group, told summit participants that as of January 2011, OhioLearns! offers 238 online courses to the state's high schools.
While Columbus, Ohio was the setting for the summit, the ideas on how digital learning can improve student performance and lower education costs, the sponsors said, would work throughout the United States.
Liberating Learning blog contributor Tom Vander Ark was one of the speakers at the summit. "Like most states Ohio is broke and needs to boost achievement with less money."  Here is his prescription for Ohio.
 
08.03.10 Virtual schools see rapid growth
More than 29,000 K-12 students attend school online in Ohio, about five times more than did seven years ago, reports the Dayton Daily News
Nationally, Ohio ranks third in enrolled virtual-school students, behind Pennsylvania and Arizona, according to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).  
 
 
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Archive

HISTORY
 
Ohio has a state-led virtual education program. Launched in 2010, it is called OhioLearns! Gateway. The OhioLearns! Gateway provides 238 online courses for high school students.
In Ohio, virtual charter schools are called eCommunity Schools. There are seven eCommunity schools that serve students statewide.
In addition, there are 20 eCommunity schools sponsored by local school districts. eCommunity schools first opened for the 2000-01 school year. In the 2009-2010 school year, more than 31,000 students attended eCommunity schools.
eCommunity schools are funded at the same formula per-pupil as traditional districts ($5,718 for FY 2010).
Ohio has a moratorium on the creation of new eCommunity schools. The moratorium was in 2005 as part of HB66. Quality issues that eventually led to the closing of six eCommunity schools in 2008 played a role in the moratorium. A 2009 report by the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools indicated that many of the issues that raised concerns about eCommunity schools have been addressed and the moratorium should be lifted.
In 2011,  John Kasich signed House Bill 153, the two-year, $55.8 billion state measure, which includes provisions that will expand digital learning opportunities in traditional and charter public schools.
The provisions include:
-- Ensuring Ohio students have access to online courses at any point in their educational careers.
-- Providing students the ability to fulfill state curriculum requirements through online courses to supplement courses taken in a traditional classroom setting, at any time during the calendar year, without a limit on the number of credits received online.
-- Allowing students will be able to customize their education through individual online courses – allowing them to access course-level options in addition to the already established full-time e-schools.

The measure also established the Ohio Digital Learning Task Force, which is charged with developing a strategy for the expansion of digital learning that enables students to customize their education.


 
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